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UCL Home  /  Geography  /  People  /  Research Students  /  Robert Petitpas

Robert Petitpas

Contact

Robert Petitpas

r.petitpas.11@ucl.ac.uk
rcpetitpas@gmail.com

UCL Department of Geography
University College London
Pearson Building
Gower Street
London
WC1E 6BT

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Current research

Ontological politics of tree conservation: the case of araucarias in Chile

This research aims to understand the politics around the uses and conservation of araucarias (Araucaria araucana). The araucaria is an iconic tree in Chile, present on banknotes, and other official documents, and sacred to indigenous people. Also, araucaria seeds have been for centuries a staple food to Pehuenche people. The species is a Natural Monument and thus protected in all the Chilean territory. Also, the species is classified as Vulnerable by Chilean law, and Endangered at the international level (IUCN red lists). Despite the strong protection that the tree has in Chile, there are disagreements regarding the future of the species. Recent wildfires, unknown diseases, drier climate conditions, and increases in seed consumption, have triggered scientific projects and experts committees in order to assess threats to araucaria forests. Many Chilean scientists are advocating to change the conservation status from Vulnerable to Endangered, on the other hand, Pehuenche communities made this year a public statement rejecting the change in the conservation status, worried that their ancestral access to the seed will be restricted. Later, the national forest corporation (CONAF) declared that there is not enough scientific evidence to declare the species endangered. In response, the Ministry of Environment declared that they were the only institution entitled to change the conservation status, and the decision on the matter will be delivered in 2018.

The change from Vulnerable to Endangered and its ecological and social consequences unveil not only scientific uncertainties but also social and political processes that are behind the interactions between the different actors involved in araucaria conservation, and also the interactions between humans and araucarias. But we propose that the araucaria of the scientists, the government and the local communities are not the same araucarias. By using an ontological politics framework, where araucarias are considered ontologically multiple, we aim at better understand the politics behind the agreements and disagreements regarding the conservation of araucarias in Chile. Also, this research aims at exploring the different ways of understanding the araucaria, the discrepancies and similarities between different understandings, and role of these in shaping the politics of araucaria conservation.

 

Primary Supervisor: Dr Sam Randalls (UCL Geography)
Secondary Supervisor: Dr Seth Gustafson (UCL Geography)

Biography

Work Experience

Research assistant
Interdisciplinary Center for Intercultural and Indigenous Studies
Department of Anthropology, Faculty of Social Science, Pontificia Universidad Católica de
Chile, 2013 – 2015

Associate researcher
Fauna Australis Wildlife Laboratory
Department of Ecosystems and Environment, Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry
Engineering, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, 2010 – 2011; 2013 – 2015

 

Academic Background

MSc, Environment, Science and Society, Department of Geography, University College London, 2012

Forestry Engineer, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, 2010

Academic Minor in Environmental Studies, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, 2008

 

Grants

Scholarship for PhD Studies, Becas Chile program of CONICYT (National Commission of Science and Technology), 2015

Scholarship granted by Botanic Latin-American Network for regional workshop in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, 2011

Scholarship for Master Studies, Becas Chile program of CONICYT (National Commission of Science and Technology), 2009

 

Awards

Award for the contribution to a sustainable culture in the university. Sustainability Office and Ecological Council (CEUC) of Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, 2011

Academic excellence award, Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry Engineering, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, 2010

Meritorious award that recognized the integral formation and behaviour according to the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry Engineering, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, 2010.

Publications

Peer-reviewed publications

Petitpas, R., Ibarra, J. T., Miranda, M. and Bonacic, C. 2016. Spatial patterns over a 24-year period show an increase in native vegetation cover and decreased fragmentation in Andean temperate landscapes, Chile. Ciencia e investigación agraria 43(3), 384 – 395.

Álvarez-Varas, R., Petitpas, R., Stowhas, P. and Fuentes-Hurtado, M. 2015. Conservation Research Needs of Easter Island (Rapa Nui) Marine Turtles. Chelonian Conservation and Biology 14(2), 184 – 192.

Gálvez, N., Hernández, F., Laker, J., Gilabert, H., Petitpas, R., Bonacic, C., Gimona, A., et al. 2013. Forest cover outside protected areas plays an important role in the conservation of the Vulnerable guiña Leopardus guigna. Oryx 47(02), 251 – 258.

 

Selected presentations

Vargas, S., Petitpas, R., Kalazich, F. and Bonacic, C. 2015. El guanaco como especie cultural clave en Atacama (The guanaco as a cultural keystone specie in Atacama). XXII
Annual meeting of Chilean ecological society, Olmué, Chile. November 3 – 6.

Petitpas, R. y Randalls, S. 2014. Ciencia ciudadana y relación público-ciencia en el estudio de las aves en Chile: el caso de eBird. XI Chilean Congress of Ornithology, La Serena, Chile. Octubre 13 – 17.

Petitpas, R., Sandoval, MJ., Condeza, C. and Altamirano, TA. 2013. Distribución potencial de aves amenazadas y su representación en áreas protegidas. V Ecology bi-national meeting, Chile - Argentina. Puerto Varas, Chile, November, 3 – 6.

Bonacic, C., Muñoz, AE. and Petitpas, R., Ohrens, O. 2013. Interacciones entre la agricultura Aymará y ungulados silvestre en ecosistemas andinos de Tarapacá, Chile. V Ecology bi-national meeting, Chile - Argentina. Puerto Varas, Chile, November, 3 – 6.

Petitpas, R., Ohrens, O., Hernández, F. and Bonacic, C. 2011. Distribution models of invasive species in Southern Chile: Red Deer, Wild Boar and American Mink. BIOLIEF, 2nd World Conference on Biological Invasions and Ecosystem Functioning. BIOLIEF. Mar del Plata, Argentina. November, 21 – 24.

Petitpas, R., Miranda, M., Ibarra, J.T., Gálvez, N., Laker, J. and Bonacic, C. 2010. Cambios en los patrones espaciales del paisaje entre 1983 y 2007, en la pre-cordillera de la Araucanía, Chile. IV Ecology bi-national meeting. Buenos Aires, Argentina.